After all the bocce balls had been set up and all the contestants signed in – while the brackets were being randomly selected and drawn up – there was a moment of quiet anticipation. A jersey that read ‘St. Jude Hero’ fluttered in the wind alongside a Turbo Bocce flag. The jersey was appropriately worded.
In a very real sense everybody that attended Turbo Bocce’s first one on one tournament to determine the best bocce player in Syracuse was a hero, because every participant made a contribution to help the sick children at St. Jude’s Hospital – but having said that, everybody in attendance knew that only one participant’s efforts would be remembered after the fact. Much like the gladiatorial heroes of old, many stouthearted competitors would enter this field of combat, and only one would emerge victorious.
It was determined by unanimous consent that the winner of this tournament would be the one to give it a name going forward, and there was no shortage of talent vying for that honor. Nine of the ten Turbo Bocce scoring champions (including this season’s leader) were in attendance. Eight former champions participated, and the winner of last year’s Syracuse Bocce Blast (the largest bocce tournament in Syracuse history) were just a small sample of the great bocce players that assembled with a steely determination to win glory.
The randomly selected bracket was announced to a tumult of cheers and jeers from the crowd of participants and onlookers.
Some of the highlights included:
Andy Ingals vs. Anson Zepetello, two ex partners who are also ex champions together.
Scott Mead vs. Bernard Levine, who are currently partners.
George Christou, an ex champion, vs. Robb Jones, the current champion.
Once the pairings were announced, the games began.
Shots were made, hearts were broken, and after a few hours only Andy Ingalls and Monica Angelosanto remained unbeaten in this double elimination tournament. They would play each other and the winner would go straight to the championship game, while the loser would have to earn his way back by beating everybody in the losers bracket.
The game was tied at 7 to 7 when Monica made a bocce that gave her a chance at a four point round and a victory. She got the first three in but missed on the fourth, giving Andy a second life.
Its never a good idea to give a bocce champion a second chance, and sure enough Andy fought back, but in the end Monica was just too good, and her lead was too much; she won the game.
Now Andy would have to drop into the losers bracket and wait to see who emerged to face him.
I’ll start my recap of the losers bracket with George Christou. He lost his first match of the day against Robb Jones, then started an epic fight through the losers bracket that spanned five straight wins and included back to back victories against Turbo Bocce’s only two time champions, Jim Whpple and Paul Colabufo.
These wins landed him in a game against his partner, Phil Martino, with whom he is 19-2 this year and in first place. The game was as good as you’d expect it to be, and in the end Phil won and advanced.
Phil went on to play Justin McLaughlin who is this year’s points leader and who came off a win against Mike Aylesworth, a member of last year’s second place team.
Phil started the game blazing hot and took a 9-0 lead despite Justin making a lot of good shots. Justin, however, fought back and scored the next eight, only to see Phil close the game out 11-8.
Now Phil would go on to play another ex teammate, Andy Ingalls. The winner would go onto the championship game while the loser would take home the third place prize. Andy played great bocce all day, but by this time Phil was red hot and won.
In the championship game Monica had the advantage of being the only undefeated player, and thus only needing to win one game to win the tournament while her opponent would need two wins. However, she had the disadvantage of having to wait around for about two hours while the losers bracket played out.
Monica also had the disadvantage of playing Phil Martino, whose team is in first place this year and who was playing just about the best bocce possible going into the finals. This disadvantage, however, was not one that mattered much to Monica. She hardly threw a wrong shot all game, keeping in full control the entire time, and not giving Phil much of a chance. The crowd was truly struck at her near perfect play.
At the end of the day, Turbo Bocce had a very definite winner, and Syracuse has a very definite “best bocce player” – Monica Angelosanto emerged undefeated in a tournament where everybody else lost twice.
She was not one of the nine scoring leaders that participated in the tournament, nor one of the nine people who had won Turbo Bocce championships in one form or another, but she is a fantastic bocce player who has been fantastic for a while now. She is a shining example of the depth of talent playing bocce in Syracuse right now, and she is a example that anything can happen in any given bocce tournament.
Most of all, Monica Angelosanto is THE hero in a tournament of many St. Jude Heroes. She is the only person whose performance will be talked about for years to come, and she is unquestionably the best bocce player in Syracuse.
So, what will next year’s one on one tournament be named? I’ll let you know when Monica decides.
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